Roaring Fork River ‘Floating Summit’ recap

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud):

About 75 people gathered along the west bank of a runoff-swollen Roaring Fork River in Veltus Park Thursday morning for a “floating summit” sponsored by the Roaring Fork Conservancy. The original idea was to have a flotilla of several rafts from Carbondale to Glenwood, with small group discussions taking place in each raft, followed by a summary discussion at the park. For the past six years, the conservancy sponsored the free float for members of the general public to see the river up close and learn about the issues that impact the waterway. With the high runoff and near-flooding conditions this week, however, it was decided to suspend the float in favor of a morning-long meeting of the minds…

The gathering included representatives from each of the municipalities and counties in the Roaring Fork Valley, as well as water district officials, river outfitters and conservation groups. District 61 State Rep. Kathleen Curry, I-Gunnison, was also on hand to speak to the issue from a statewide perspective. “This is a great way to stimulate local discussion on how best to address issues in the Roaring Fork watershed,” Curry said…

“We need to be proactive as a region to make sure the impacts from water diversions [from the West Slope to the Front Range metro areas] are minimized,” Curry said. One way to do that is to come up with as many ways as possible, and financially feasible, to make use of more water on the Western Slope…

“From a legislative standpoint, we also need to work to make sure that if the state is going to use state tax dollars for water projects that it benefits the entire state, not just part of it,” Curry said.

Local governments would also be prudent to work together to set up legal defense funds in case Western Slope water rights are challenged by Front Range interests. “If they know we are in a position to litigate, they’re more likely to come to the table and negotiate something that works for all interests,” she said.

For the past two years, the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority have been working to develop the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan. The collaborative effort has brought various government and water management agencies in the valley together to address common water concerns, said Mark Fuller, director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. “I’m confident we’re going to have a plan that will help control our own fate when it comes to future water development,” Fuller said.

More Roaring Fork watershed coverage here and here.

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